(Friday AM update) Warm (and windy) conditions continue this week . . . Snow and cold returns this weekend

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

Friday AM update:

Just updating really quick to mention that everything still looks on track.  10-20″ above 7,000 feet with up to 2 feet in favored locations of the Cottonwoods. Keep in mind this is going to fall Saturday night – Monday night so that’s 10-20″ spread out over 48 hours…. don’t expect to wake up Sunday or Monday morning with 20 inches of fresh snow.  Should make for 2 or 3 good powder days though.  Details later . . .

Thursday update:

Everything still on track… looking at 12z Thursday guidance I feel comfortable saying 10-20″ with up to 2 feet in favored locations (for Cottonwoods).  With that said, the best frontal dynamics will be well south of the area and we will be relying on cold pool instability and orographics for much of our accumulations.  Uncomfortable to have to rely on that as it’s never a sure thing as minor changes in available moisture, amount of instability and wind direction can make a huge difference in how much snow we get.  Snow should start late Saturday afternoon/evening in the mountains with rain showers in the valleys and continue thru Sunday night with snow levels lowing to valley floors during the day on Sunday. Snow showers could continue off and on during the day on Monday.  March weather madness!

Wednesday PM update:

As expected, we’ve been just south of some of the action as rain/snow has been falling in Southern Idaho for a good part of the last 36 hours.  What we’ve been left with is clouds, occasional mountain showers, lots of wind, and relatively mild temperatures.  This pattern is going to continue before the parent low moves inland on Friday sending a cold front into Northern Utah during the day on Saturday.  Snow should start in the mountains Saturday afternoon/evening and continue unabated through at least Sunday night.  In the valleys, precip should start as rain Saturday evening and then change to snow sometime during the day on Sunday.  Still a lot of questions to when exactly we’ll see the cold air filter in and lower snow levels and valley accumulations depend on this timing so we’ll have to keep an eye on this over the next couple days.

What we do know is that the mountains from Idaho all the way down to Arizona are all going to see significant snow.  The Wasatch is looking like it could get hit with 1-2 feet of snow with more possible in favorable orographic locations.  Trying not to overhype this system so went conservative on snow totals, potential is there for this to be our biggest single storm of the season given it’s long duration.  Check back tomorrow and we’ll have a more detailed snow forecast with specific amounts.

Sunday, Monday, and even Tuesday may all be powder days…. Time to prepare your quads for active combat!


Previous discussion:

The area has been under a persistent ridge of high pressure and now is under the influence of a strong southerly flow that is pulling warm (very warm) air into the area along with some gusty winds.  If you read our previous post, you’ll know that Tahoe to our west is in the midst of a train of storms that is dumping copious amounts of snow. The ridge is still strong enough, however, to push that same moisture to our north for most of this week.  Eventually however, we’ll dislodge the ridge and that will allow for some snow to move into the Wasatch this weekend.

It’s a very tricky forecast for this weekend as each model has a slightly different track with slightly different timing.  The GFS wants to bring snow into the area during the day on Saturday and has been trending the bulk of precipitation just south of the Wasatch in recent runs.  The EC has been displaying more of a split system and doesn’t bring the cold front in until Sunday Morning.  While most models don’t have the best possible dynamics aimed right at the Wasatch, there is still a ton of moisture to work with as well as post-frontal instability.  Temperatures look like they will nose dive and snow levels will not be an issue. Hard to believe given the fact that it’s so warm our there right now….but it’s true.

Next week, the GFS wants to build a ridge over the area and cut-off a low off the California coast while the EC wants to keep storms coming.

At this point it’s really difficult to iron our the details because the models don’t want to agree…. What we do know is that we will see snow this weekend, most likely on Saturday night thru Sunday Night.  How much is still up in the air but significant accumulations are possible. Stay tuned as we get closer to the onset of snow and therefore get a clearer picture of exactly what we can expect . . .

Until then, enjoy the spring-like snow.


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  • Sammy

    What are we thinking the low end of snow totals might be from this Saturday/Sunday storm? Also, how frigid will the resorts be with this cold front?

    • Right now I would guess 10-18″ is a safe bet for this weekend, but the potential is there for more snow than that if everything goes right for us. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening all that often this winter. I think high temps behind the front on Sunday will be in the 20s at the base and teens at the top of the mountains.

  • Jacob

    Confidence increasing or decreasing in a solid snow event?

    • Increasing…. It’s definite that the Wasatch will see solid snow this weekend, but exactly how much remains in question. 10-20 inches in the cottonwoods is a safe bet.

  • Jacob

    Question for a local…Think I’ll be able to drive from SLC to Park City and back in a 2wd sedan on Sunday and Monday? Or is UTA my best bet? Just not sure how well the roads are plowed

    • It may be tough to be honest… 4WD/Snow Tire requirements are likely and it’s not uncommon for them to close Parley’s (up to PC) during large storms.

  • Mike

    Are snow levels no longer a concern into Saturday and Sunday?

    • Snow levels could start as high as 7,500 feet on Saturday afternoon which would only be a concern for the bases of PC resorts. Snow levels should quickly drop Saturday night however.

  • Luis Osorio

    I will be arriving Sunday mid afternoon to SLC Airport. Any chances of Airport closing or major delays????

    • There’s always that possibility… but my best guess is there won’t be enough snow to cause major issues. They are pretty good about keeping the airport open.

  • Mike


  • Mike

    Maybe there’s hope given how off the models have been in the past